A True Blue Buccaneer
For long-time Palm Beach County resident Jim Adair, The Buccaneer Marina represents our county’s past and its future.
Jim was just 16 years-old when he first set foot on the famed Palm Beach Shores property. An elderly neighbor invited him to dinner at The Buccaneer shortly after Jim and his parents moved to Singer Island from Louisville, Kentucky. Says Jim, “The man was pushing 90, but he was spry and a member of The Buccaneer Club with a lot of his buddies.” Over the years, their rituals became Jim’s rituals and he joined the club in 1979. “My friends and I would stop for drinks in the afternoon or after work or we would go fishing.”
Now 58 years-old, Jim is worried about the future of his old stomping ground and its legal fight with neighboring Sailfish Marina. “I don’t like what I’m hearing. Sailfish Marina wants to expand its north dock and basically encroach into The Buccaneer’s waterway. It’s not a good thing and it sure isn’t a safe thing for either side.”
A community awareness campaign about aggressive tactics by Sailfish Marina caught Jim’s attention six months ago and like other loyal fans of The Buccaneer, he’s afraid Sailfish Marina wants to monopolize the waterfront and push The Buccaneer out of business. “Basically The Buccaneer is a landmark; it has so much history. It would be a total shame for anything to happen to the place.”
Jim spent a lot of time at both marinas during his younger years. His back and forth between The Buccaneer and Sailfish Marina was common among patrons who had personal and boating connections at the two establishments. Jim worked as director of engineering operations for Hilton Hotels for many years and a former colleague ran the bar at Sailfish. Jim’s boss docked his boat at Sailfish Marina. His boss’s boat captain was legendary – “If Billy Black couldn’t put you on a fish, there weren’t any fish to be had.” Illustrious fishing tournaments also drew boaters to both marinas.
However, according to Jim, the synergy changed in the late 80s when Sailfish Marina closed to remodel, tore down the common area, and in Jim’s words, “ruined the ambiance of the place.”
He calls it a shame that a well known establishment was turned into a tourist trap. “You weren’t the person who’d been around for years, it wasn’t about the fishing. It was about what they could sell you. I never set foot in there again.”
Now he’s backing The Buccaneer in its resistance to a Sailfish Marina expansion that would create a navigation hazard and betray Palm Beach County taxpayers. Nautical experts say the fairway between the two marinas is already too narrow by industry standards and the north dock expansion would put boaters at risk. On top of that, the county paid Sailfish Marina $15 million dollars in 2006 to preserve waterfront access – and to allow public use of the north dock. The expansion would replace 32 smaller slips with 12 slips for mega-yachts, greatly reducing the number of slips for the boating community.
Of course, Jim’s allegiance to The Buccaneer is sentimental. He’s proud to be the oldest living member of the one-time Buccaneer Club and holds tight to a lot of memories. “So many good times, friends and events I’ve experienced in the 40 years I’ve been on the property.”
His favorite tale is about a Buccaneer fishing tournament in the late 80s. As Jim describes it, the shotgun went off, boats headed out and as soon as the boat Jim and four other fishermen were on hit open water, the engine’s forward gear stopped working. “No matter what I did I could only get the engine to go into reverse and I had to stand over a hot engine to get the boat home.” The fishermen were forced to travel in reverse all the way to the PGA Boulevard Bridge where the boat was docked. “Boy did we get looks along the way; and needless to say we didn’t get a line wet all day.”
Looking forward, Jim’s greatest fear is The Buccaneer Marina becomes a memory too. “It can’t just be another memory of Singer Island.”
F – French fries or tater tots? French fries
R – Right brained or left brained? Right brained
E – Email or carrier pigeon? Email
S – Sunshine or moonlight? Moonlight
H – Homebody or party animal? Party Animal